LibriVox recording of The Colored Cadet at West Point, by Henry Ossian Flipper.
Read by James K. White.
Henry Ossian Flipper--born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia on March 21, 1856--did not learn to read and write until just before the end of the Civil War. Once the war had ended, Flipper attended several schools showing a great aptitude for knowledge. During his freshman year at Atlanta University he applied for admittance to the United States National Military Academy at West Point. He was appointed to the academy in 1873 along with a fellow African American, John W. Williams. Cadet Williams was later dismissed for academic deficiencies.
Flipper and Williams were not the first African Americans to attend West Point, however. Two others came before them: James Webster Smith in July of 1870, and Henry Alonzo Napier in 1871. Cadets Napier and Smith were eventually dismissed for academic deficiencies.
In 1876, Johnson Chestnut Whittaker another African American, was admitted to the academy. But one day he was discovered beaten, bound and unconscious in his room. An investigation was conducted by a lengthy courts martial; however, this proceeding--tainted by racism--determined that Whittaker’s injuries were "self-inflicted" and that he had tied himself up. Secretary of War, Robert Todd Lincoln, later declared the court martial invalid, but this did nothing to save Cadet Whittaker's career as he was preemptively dismissed from the academy because of academic deficiencies.
Henry Ossian Flipper graduated from West Point as a Second Lieutenant in June of 1877 earning his place in history as the first African American to do so. His first permanent duty assignment was to the famed 10th Calvalry Regiment. (Introduction by James K. White)
*Reader's Note: The text, found at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2448, is divided into a preface and Chapters I through XVII with Chapter XVI omitted. As much as can be determined, this is a typographical error only and no text is missing from the document.
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March 18, 2014 Subject:
An important book
H.O. Flipper was an exceptionally fine man. These days he would (I hope) be singled out as the sort of intelligent and thoughtful officer who best represents the service.
One thing I am sure of: Flipper would not want to be remembered as a victim. In spite of his treatment, he doesn't criticise the service itself, but rather the disgraceful and "ungentlemanly" culture of West Point cadets. First and foremost Flipper considered himself an army officer, and listeners who have undergone military training will empathise with him there.
This important book should be read/listened to by all Americans. It is exceptionally well interpreted by James White, one of LibriVox's premier voice talents. Thank you James, yet again, for bringing to light an important work from the past! More please.
TheBookworm (Manchester, UK)
February 14, 2013 Subject:
Good Historical Perspective
This is the story of the first cadet of color to graduate from West Point. The story is quite good although I wish the author would have given more details about what he faced. He spends a lot of time explaining military terms. He does go on to talk about the racism he faced and he also talks a bit about another candidate of color who did not make it through. The last few chapters of the book lost me a bit as I was not sure why he talked so much about the other candidate. The reader of this story was just so wonderful though that despite some of the spotty writing, I just loved to listen to James K. White. I will look for other stories he has narrated. I recommend this story because of its historical value and I think it is important for us as Americans to continue to fight discrimination of every kind. We all need to be like Henry was and like Dr. King and judge people on their character.